Tonight the Calgary Flames play the Avalanche, the Coyotes play the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings play the St. Louis Blues (who are on a back to back) and the Sharks play the Minnesota Wild, who have dropped three straight and are all but out of the race.
The Dallas Stars, meanwhile, play the red hot Chicago Blackhawks, 7-1-2 in their last 10 having most recently dismantled and destroyed San Jose on national television Monday night, 6-3.
At best the Stars could find themselves in 6th place at the end of the night, at worst in 9th place just two points ahead of 11th and in danger of falling out the race completely.
After two straight losses and with the rest of their competitors playing the bottom dwellers of the Western Conference tonight, the margin for error is about as slim as it's going to get. Dallas has three games left in this home stand. They likely need to pull points in two of them to stay afloat.
They will have to make their stand without emotional leader Adam Burish and very likely second leading scorer Loui Eriksson, who took an elbow to the head on Tuesday night and probably will not be in the lineup either.
Dallas has fared well against Chicago this season going 2-1-0 this season against them with the most recent meeting ending in a dramatic shootout victory after being down 3-0 in the first period.
Chicago has earned points in a stellar nine of their last ten road games and has their eye on Detroit's division lead coming down the stretch. A very tall task awaits tonight for the once again injured Dallas Stars who have dropped three of their last four.
Continued after the jump...
A loss tonight is worth more than just two points, as usual. A Dallas regulation or overtime win would tie the ROW (regulation + overtime wins, excludes shootout wins) tiebreaker and give them the next tie breaker, points earned between the two teams, which Dallas currently leads 4-3. A Chicago regulation or overtime win renders that last tie breaker moot, as they'd have a two ROW edge over the Stars with only 12 to play.
The only option is to win.
Chicago brings with them the league's second best PP, a tool they used to obliterate a big, strong Sharks team on Monday night. The retaliation, the high-sticking, the delay of game flubs and everything else need to go out the window to protect Dallas from one of the best units in hockey. Marian Hossa scored both power play goals for the Hakws on Monday in a five goal blitzkrieg against San Jose and he has 15 points in his last 11 games.
Corey Crawford is expected to get the start in net once again as you can see from our SB Nation friends Second City Hockey, they kind of wish the young man would get a break. Given what happened the first time Marty Turco came back to visit Dallas, it's hard to disagree with them, but Crawford will be in net with two entire days rest.
In response to losing Loui Eriksson for an unspecified amount of time (further stranding Brad Richards with no one familiar to him as he attempts his comeback) Dallas has placed Brandon Segal on re-entry waivers from the Texas Stars. The assumption is that he'll clear and provide an extra body in the mean time, but I would not be surprised to see him in the lineup tonight as that's the kind of situational motivation that coaches love.
Kari Lehtonen is expected to once again get the start in net for Dallas.
The forecast for
front-runners people who live in DFW and own Blackhawks gear now that did NOT own any three years ago is expected to reach an all time high tonight at the AAC, so please arrive promptly and loudly, such as to avoid the game sounding like a Chicago home ice advantage. No one in Dallas is from Dallas, as they say. Doubly true with hockey fans.
Highlights from the Hawks last trip to Dallas...
The Stars have several media appearance today ahead of their big Chicago showdown: